MONTPELIER — Gov. Phil Scott says he will lift all of the remaining coronavirus pandemic restrictions if and when the state reaches 80% of the eligible population with at least one dose of the vaccine.
The governor set July 4 as the date he wanted to have the state reopened as much as possible. His Vermont Forward plan, announced April 6, included certain vaccine benchmarks the state had to hit in order to move to the next reopening step. The state needed to reach 60% of the population with at least one dose of the vaccine by June 1 to move to the third step in the plan, and it got there with nearly three weeks to spare. But the fourth and final step didn’t have any such benchmark.
The governor said earlier this week that was an oversight on his part, and he was working with members of his administration on what the number should be.
Scott said at his regular news conference Friday Vermont leads the country with over 70% of the eligible population with at least one dose of the vaccine. Anyone 12 years old or older is vaccine-eligible.
“So here’s my challenge to you: If we hit 80%, I’ll lift any remaining restrictions and mandates that day. Admittedly, this would be an ambitious goal for most. And to be honest, most states won’t come close to reaching it. But I believe Vermont can. We can show the country how it’s done,” Scott said.
He said to reach 80%, the state will need to vaccinate another 27,954 residents.
The governor said now is the time to sign up for a vaccine if someone has been on the fence or hesitant. He said there’s a chance to get back to normal faster, and its never been easier to get the vaccine.
Scott said 18- to 29-year-olds continue to lag behind for vaccinations. He said he understood why some might not have felt the urgency to get vaccinated yet.
“But now is your time to do the right thing. We’re counting on you to help us lift restrictions early,” he said.
He said if the state doesn’t reach 80% by July 4, the restrictions will still be dropped because everyone who wants a vaccine by that point would have been able to get one.
Scott said the state will attempt to provide daily updates of Vermont’s vaccine percentage, with a countdown of how many vaccinations remain to reach 80%.
The governor said his state of emergency order might be lifted at the same time as the restrictions. He said members of his administration will work during the next couple of weeks to see if there is anything in the order that might need to stay in place a bit longer. He said getting rid of the order might impact necessary funding or information the state receives in response to the pandemic.
“We just want to be better safe than sorry,” he said.